Senior Corps Stories

Jim Koelliker headshot
Jim Koelliker
Senior Corps RSVP

Jim Koelliker

When asked about his time volunteering in the community, Senior Corps RSVP volunteer Jim Koelliker summed it up best, “There’s no better place to meet people, caring, happy people who lift me up.” Jim retired early in order to stay home and take care of his wife. He started volunteering because he was looking for flexible options away from home to keep moving. He loves to meet people and help fill a need.

Jim is a retired professor in Biological and Agriculture Engineering at Kansas State University. He was a founding member of the faculty committee that established the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Secondary Major in 1991. Jim first started working with the Konza Prairie Biological Station in 1978 as a researcher, and now he enjoys assisting with events and environmental programs with kids, and was a member of the Friends of the Konza Prairie board for six years.

During the past five years, Jim has been organizing and managing the parking lot and line of cars for the Harvesters Mobile Food Pantry each month. Jim has also spent the past nine years working with the VITA tax program in Junction City, and with state and national organizations related to his work in agriculture and engineering.

Jim has been a RSVP volunteer for four years.

Velma Osborn posing with Senior Corps banner
Velma Osborn
Senior Corps RSVP

Velma Osborn

Senior Corps RSVP volunteer Velma Osborn started volunteering in the 1950’s. She specifically remembers a day in 1953 when she volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital. One of the Sisters approached Velma after noticing the wonderful work she was doing and asked if she was interested in adoption. That’s how Velma and her husband were able to adopt their first child - through volunteering. “I’ve been volunteering all of my life; I don’t know any different,” said Velma when asked what motivated her to volunteer. She is the definition of a lifelong volunteer; it runs in her blood and she enjoys her work.

Currently, Velma volunteers at Ascension Via Christi Hospital, assists with the American Red Cross bloodmobiles, and creates personal items for local agencies. She makes bathrobes for the Wounded Warriors, pillows for people in wheelchairs, fidget quilts for those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and more. Her items, especially the fidget quilts, have become popular throughout the area and have helped many individuals.

Velma has been a RSVP volunteer for 25 years and is 91 years young. She hopes future generations embrace volunteering as she has over the years. She enjoys the work, feels that it’s where she is needed, and appreciates the opportunity to socialize with fellow volunteers.

John Thomas smiling in Senior Corps gear
John Thomas
Senior Corps RSVP

John Thomas

Senior Corps RSVP volunteer John Thomas is a people person. He does not like to boast about what he does, as it’s more about the people that he encounters. John was an Army Infantryman during the Vietnam War. He served our country and continues that same love by volunteering in his community. John enjoys visiting with other veterans and travels to the Topeka VA Hospital where he can easily strike up a conversation.

While he currently volunteers at several other local agencies, he really enjoys visiting with the residents at the Stoneybrook Assisted Living Facility. John was motivated to start visiting residents when he saw the opportunity because he was reminded of his mother, who was a Stoneybrook resident before she passed away. He understands and appreciates the value in visiting the residents and becoming their friend. His time with the Stoneybrook residents has given John a greater respect for elders and the lessons that can be learned from their wisdom. John says, “It makes me feel wonderful helping people”.

John has been a volunteer for nine years.

Ray Thompson shaking hands with military man
Ray Thompson
Senior Corps RSVP

Ray Thompson

In 1999, after recovering from a coma, Senior Corps RSVP Volunteer Clarence Ray Thompson decided to spend his time working for a soldier and his family. Ray, a retired Special Forces Soldier who served in the Vietnam War, has been volunteering with the Fort Riley American Red Cross and the Irwin Army Community Hospital for the past 20 years; earning respect, appreciation, and recognition along the way. In 2016, Ray was recognized with the Tribute to Heroes: Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Red Cross. While he displays several of his awards and keeps many more pieces of recognition on file in a briefcase, the Lifetime Achievement Award is his favorite moment.

Prior to his current role as Hospital Liaison, Ray had the opportunity to work in the medical ward for many years. While in the ward, he assisted hospital staff as best he could with paperwork, room changes, and any other task need to make things run smoothly. His leadership and passion for the hospital eventually led him to the front welcome desk and into the roll as Hospital Liaison. “My job is easy- I see people, I help people, and I sit at the help desk. I have 28 volunteers and no problems. I assist with emergencies as needed and I do my paperwork.”

Ray has been a RSVP volunteer for nearly 12 years.

Ray Thompson chatting with Senior Corps Director Deborah Cox Roush in 2019

Ken Kozloff helps youth learn to swim with Adapted Aquatics
Ken Kozloff

Ken Kolzoff

Senior Corps volunteer Ken Kozloff doesn’t just enjoy leaving his comfort zone, he thrives on it. The 72-year-old Springfield, Va., resident had no experience working with special needs children, but it was something he always wanted to do. After he joined Senior Corps, Ken found an opportunity to do just that. As an RSVP volunteer, Ken teaches children with autistism how to swim. Ken recently expanded his RSVP volunteer service to help high school students become financially literate.  One day it occurred to him, why couldn’t the financial literacy curriculum be taught to special needs students as well? Ken worked with a teacher to adapt the curriculum so special needs students could access it too. Ken recently told new RSVP recruits, “What you get back [from volunteering] is like 20 times more than what you are giving.” He implored them to venture outside of their comfort zone.

RSVP Veteran's Coffeehouse volunteers pose for a photo as they sip warm coffee
RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse
#IamSeniorCorps: Serving Veterans - RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse
By CNCS Connecticut State Office
RSVP project sponsor Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA), a community action agency in eastern Connecticut, opened the first Veteran’s Coffeehouse in Killingly, Connecticut, in 2015. The coffeehouse offers a venue for veterans to socialize while providing information on benefits available to veterans and their families. Speakers represent a variety of organizations serving veterans, such as the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund; the Veterans Service Office of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs; Connecticut Commission on Human Rights; and the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.
Through connections made at the coffeehouse, veterans have gained access to additional services and benefits for which they were eligible, including housing, energy, medical and food assistance. The original coffeehouse in Killingly is now self-sustaining and operates independently of RSVP. With the support of 14 RSVP volunteers, the TVCCA has launched four additional coffeehouses in Pawcatuck, Norwich, New London and Groton. From April 2016 to January 2018, a total of 535 veterans have attended RSVP Veterans Coffeehouses throughout eastern Connecticut. 
Image of an RSVP volunteer in new york
RSVP Volunteers in New York
#SeniorCorpsWorks: RSVP Volunteers Serve Fellow Vets in New York 
This video shows how Senior Corps RSVP Veterans Court program provides an opportunity for RSVP veterans to help fellow veterans. 
Screen shot of RSVP video
Image of United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana
United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana

#IamSeniorCorps: United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana Show they Care

For years, Senior Corps’ United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana volunteers have collected, sorted, and packaged items to be donated to food pantries, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters. They have also created care packages that were sent to veterans and military families. In 2017, they collected over 5,000 handcrafted gifts and toiletry items that were made into more than 800 care packages.

Grandpa Jerry hard at work
Grandpa Jerry
Foster Grandparent

For Jerry, the kids he mentors through the RS Foster Grandparents Program remind him of himself when he was young. "I understand their anger, I felt it as a kid. I understand their tears because they were my tears too."
RS recruits, trains and mobilizes low-income senior adults to volunteer with young people in difficult public schools and other local children's institutions. Foster Grandparents provide tutoring and mentoring services as well as an all-important connection to a caring adult. Watch the video and learn more!

The above video may include external links to Youtube’s video platform. Youtube’s privacy and security practices and policies may differ from CNCS'. CNCS is not responsible for these links nor does it endorse the content of the third-party website (Read more).

Image of a Jumpstart Senior Corps volunteer
Jumpstart Senior Corps Volunteers
#SeniorCorpsWorks: Jumpstart Senior Corps Volunteers Make a Difference
Watch this amazing video from Encore to see how Senior Corps Jumpstart volunteers teach children the literary skills they need to succeed in school.  
screen shot of Jumpstart Senior Corps volunteer video
Image of the RSVP couple getting married
RSVP Wedding
Soul Mates- Found through Volunteering
Two RSVP volunteers met at the Harbor Village Warsaw, MO Senior Center while they were volunteering. A friendship developed and a romance was started between Terry Terflinger and Le Saupe, which brings us to their wedding four months later on a bright, Tuesday morning, in July. Both Terry and Le found that they shared an interest in serving their community, and enjoyed family and friends. When questioned, Le said that she “was attracted to his mind at first. He was so sincere and kind, it was later that I realized how good looking he was.” With 75 guests including many more of their fellow RSVP volunteers, Terry and Le were married by Le’s brother, a local minister, Cliff Saupe, here at the place they met. After the wedding, they served a beautiful cake made by the senior center head cook, Tracy Haynes. Terry and Le are enjoying their honeymoon on a cruise to Alaska. They will be back to serve and volunteer in their community again, only this time as a team.
Back to Top